It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St. Ives, brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer, is at his home in Aylesford with his family. A few miles to the north a steam launch has been taken by pirates above Egypt Bay, the crew murdered and pitched overboard.
In Aylesford itself a grave is opened and possibly robbed of the skull. The suspected grave robber, the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, is an old nemesis of Langdon St. Ives. When Dr. Narbondo returns to kidnap his four-year-old son Eddie and then vanishes into the night, St. Ives and his factotum Hasbro race into London in pursuit...
What I liked about it: To begin with, Mr. Blaylock is an extraordinary writer. This rollicking steampunk adventure showcases his excellent prose. Likeable characters, a vile villain and an imaginative setting makes this book into a must-read for lovers of steampunk literature.
What I didn’t like about it: The only issue I had with this charming tale is that the end dragged out a little bit too long. It seems that poor Eddie is kidnapped, and then someone swoops in and rescues him, but then they get caught. Then he’s rescued again, but then they get caught again. I believe this happened three times, and it had me suffering from some literary whiplash. It seemed like the climax of the thing took a long time to get to, I was really impatient to get the big fight started. Then finally, it seemed to me that it ended very abruptly. Perhaps from all the buildup.
In Conclusion: Would I recommend The Aylesford Skull to Steampunk readers? Absolutely, in fact, I would say it’s headed the way of the steampunk classic, in spite of the minor flaws I mentioned. I feel I should be adding more of Mr. Baylock’s works to my personal bookshelf, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the bookstore.
Rating: 7 out of 8 Octopus legs